Thursday, June 04, 2009

Some facts about H1N1/Influenza A

Hey there, peoples. I came across some facts about this H1N1 virus and I though I'd share. It's from the Barbados GIS website here

Remember to take all the necessary precautions so we can prevent this virus from spreading!

How do people become infected with Influenza A (H1N1)?
Influenza A (H1N1) is caused by a virus, similar to the common cold or the virus that causes regular influenza, but this is a new type of virus. Outbreaks in humans are now occurring from human-to-human transmission.

When infected people cough or sneeze, infected droplets get on their hands, drop onto surfaces, or are dispersed into the air. Another person can breathe in contaminated air, or touch infected hands or surfaces, and be exposed. To prevent spread, people should cover their mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing, and wash their hands regularly.

What are the signs and symptoms of infection?

Early signs of influenza A (H1N1) are flu-like, including fever, cough, headache, muscle and joint pain, sore throat and runny nose, and sometimes vomiting or diarrhoea. There must be a travel history to affected countries within 7 to 10 days or contact with someone with symptoms who has traveled to an affected country

How can you prevent the spread of H1N1?

The most effective way to prevent and control the spread of this respiratory illness is through general hygiene measures:

Cover your mouth and nose with disposable tissues when coughing and sneezing, and dispose of the used tissues properly.
Wash your hands with soap and water often and thoroughly, especially after coughing or sneezing. An alcohol based hand sanitizer gel can also be effective.
Keep your hands away from your eyes, nose and mouth, as the virus can enter your body this way.
In addition, using a nutritious diet, managing stress and getting adequate exercise are recommended measures for maintaining or boosting natural resistance to infections.
Persons traveling from affected regions and having symptoms should seek medical attention from a doctor and report to public health authorities if instructed. Persons with mild symptoms may be advised to stay at home and limit contact with others in order to control the spread of the infection.

Do Healthy People Need Masks?

No! The current recommendation from the World Health Organisation (W.H.O) is that masks should not be used as a prevention measure for healthy persons. The general use of masks may provide a false sense of security and it is likely that they will be used incorrectly. The prevention measures outlined above are more effective in preventing spread in the general population. Masks may be used by ill persons if they have to be out in public.

What is the treatment for persons affected by H1N1?

Treatment will depend on the severity of the symptoms. For mild cases the normal measures that could be used for any influenza will be employed. These may include increased fluids, rest, and medication for pain, fever and other symptoms e.g. paracetamol. For moderate to severe cases medical attention must be sought. The doctor may prescribe antiviral medication, antibiotics and other treatments according to the specific needs of the patient. Protocols have been put in place for the use of antiviral medication. Please note that depending on the severity of the illness, hospitalization will be necessary.

Is it safe to travel?

W.H.O. is not recommending travel restrictions related to the outbreak of the influenza A (H1N1) virus, but persons will need to exercise caution if travelling to highly affected areas. Today, international travel moves rapidly, with large numbers of individuals visiting various parts of the world. Limiting travel and imposing travel restrictions would have very little effect on stopping the virus from spreading, but would be highly disruptive to the global community.

What should I do if I think I have the illness?

If you feel unwell, have high fever, cough or sore throat:

Stay at home and keep away from work, school or crowds.
Rest and take plenty of fluids.
Cover your mouth and nose with disposable tissues when coughing and sneezing, and dispose of the used tissues properly.
Wash your hands with soap and water often and thoroughly, especially after coughing or sneezing.
Seek the advice of your health care provider.

Adapted from World Health Organization
Fact Sheet on Influenza A (H1N1)

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